ZICARELLI: Dinwiddie mulls decision on Argos’ starting QB – Toronto Sun

Author of the article:

Frank Zicarelli

Toronto Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie.     John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, Toronto Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie has a decision to make at quarterback.

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And once again, he’ll wait before deciding on his starter for Wednesday’s visit by the Ottawa Redblacks.

The Argos huddled Saturday for a light workout that would see McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Nick Arbuckle share the reps.

One will start this week.

Dinwiddie hopes to announce his starter by as early as Sunday.

The Argos are 4-3 this season, with MBT and Arbuckle each directing the club to two wins.

Arbuckle entered the season with an injured hamstring, which allowed the veteran MBT to start games in Calgary and Winnipeg.

Arbuckle was under centre in the Argos’ home opener against the Blue Bombers and held the job for a month until he aggravated the hamstring in the third quarter of a road loss to Saskatchewan.

When the Als came to town on Sept. 24, MBT started with Antonio Pipkin dressing as the backup in Pipkin’s debut with the Argos.

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MBT was clean and made plays down the field in guiding the Argos to a 30-27 win.

He completed two passes in the second half.

Just before the opening half, the Argos scored two touchdowns in 42 seconds.

If recent history is any indication, Dinwiddie will likely go with the QB affectionately known as Mac.

It was MBT who stepped in for an injured Arbuckle in leading the Argos to their season-opening win over the Stamps, a similar backdrop to MBT’s start against the Als.

“He played well,” said Arbuckle of MBT’s performance against Montreal. “It’ll be tough to take him off the field. We’ll see where we’re at there. I feel good about both guys.

“I feel comfortable with both guys. They are different in their skill set, but I think Mac deserves the opportunity.

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“We’ll see where he’s at when we gather for practice (Sunday). I’m comfortable with both guys and both guys deserve to play.”

Dinwiddie wants both players to share reps as the Argos emerge from their bye break.

“We’ll deal with it as we get into the week,” said Dinwiddie.

The issue with Arbuckle has been protecting the football and making smart decisions.

In home wins over Winnipeg and Hamilton, Arbuckle was sloppy and careless in either fumbling the football or allowing the ball to hit the turf.

He has more interceptions (6) than touchdown passes (5).

But he knows the Dinwiddie system.

MBT is new to the system, but he hasn’t been as careless in his three starts.

“I’ve always loved his arm talent,” said Dinwiddie of MBT. “He’s an exceptional passer. He’s getting the ball out quicker now. He’s seeing things better and that’s because he’s learning with more opportunities being in the offence.

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“For him to pick it up as quickly as he did early on I was excited about it. You see it now and it’s a different comfort level as far as seeing the field, getting the ball out of your hands, understanding what we’re looking for in each concept.

“He’s taken that next step. I truly believed he would take that next step in his career and I feel the same way about Nick. I felt more comfortable with both guys, maybe more comfortable than some other people. I believe our quarterbacks are darn good.”

Pipkin likely will not dress this week.

Dinwiddie liked what he saw from Pipkin when the formers Als QB took some live reps for the first time as Argo.

“I was trying to get him some quarterback draws because he did well in our short yardage,” said Dinwiddie of Pipkin. “I think the kid is going in the right direction. He kind of got thrown to the wolves early in his career like most quarterbacks and struggled.

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“You lose a little bit of confidence. I think he’s getting that back. He’s getting better each day.”

MEET THE NEW GUYS

Justin Tuggle is no stranger to the Argos, having broken into the CFL with Toronto in 2017, a year in which the club won a Grey Cup.

Tuggle is a versatile rush end who can play at linebacker.

Dinwiddie hosted Tuggle two years ago in free agency.

He eventually would sign with Edmonton.

Where and when Tuggle lines up will depend on how Chris Jones evaluates Tuggle during practice.

“We’ve always had an eye on him,’’ said Dinwiddie of Tuggle, whose dad Jessie was a former NFL Pro Bowl LB with Atlanta. “He’s physical and has the character we’re looking to bring into this building.”

His brother is Grady Jarrett, a stud defensive end for the Falcons.

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One of Jarrett’s former teammates in Atlanta is cornerback Jalen Collins, whom the Argos also have signed.

Dinwiddie said Collins is in quarantine.

“He’s in town,” said Dinwiddie. “He’s been on our radar. We’ll be having him soon.”

RECEIVING ACCLAIM

Chandler Worthy caught a deep touchdown pass, while a deep reception by Damion Jeanpiere led to an Argos major against the Als.

Jeanpiere got the start when veteran Eric Rogers was a late scratch because of a hamstring injury.

Worthy doubles up as the primary returner.

Dinwiddie acknowledged that Worthy will be back on the roster against Ottawa.

As for Jeanpiere, who has played in two games, that will depend on the health of Rogers.

“Did a helluva job for us,” said Dinwiddie of Jeanpiere. “He gave us some more down-field speed. Chandler gives us that as well. Chandler will be up for sure, but we’ll see where Eric’s at and I’ll have to make that decision on Damion and Eric moving forward.”

fzicarelli@postmedia.com

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